Hiring a personal trainer: How to find the right one for you

So you’d like to work with a personal trainer, and you don’t want to waste time and money meeting every trainer in town. You’re ready to get to it, but are overwhelmed by where to start. That’s understandable, now that virtual training programs are widely available, you have access to trainers from anywhere in the world! Assuming you have decided that you’d like to work one on one with a coach, here are some ways to focus the process of hiring a personal trainer so you can get to working those goals!

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3 Considerations to help you find THE BEST FIT!

1. Get clear on what you want

Before you hire a personal trainer, take time to crystallize what you’re looking to get from the relationship. Identifying some key points will help when it comes time to narrow your options and tell prospective coaches exactly what you’re looking for.

Start by answering these questions:

What are my health and fitness goals?

Are you looking for help with general fitness? Getting back in after time away? Do you have a sport-related goal, such as a race or a skill you want to learn?

While lots of pros are skilled in multiple areas, look for a coach that has experience instructing the thing you want to learn.

Discuss your goals and fears when hiring a personal trainer

How much push will I need?

Be honest. Do you think you may be reluctant to get going? If so, you’ll want a trainer with a strong accountability game who knows that not everyone who wants to exercise *wants* to exercise.

Are you pumped and ready to hit the ground running? Look for a coach who offers frequent check-ins and content to meet your motivation, while staying realistic.

What obstacles do I expect to come up against in pursuing my goals?

Do an inventory of your “assets and liabilities.” What things may come up that have the potential to disrupt your progress? Common challenges are childcare, health issues, work schedule, finances, and transportation. Look for a trainer that accommodates the challenges you expect.

For example, if childcare is an issue, find a coach that works in a gym with a playroom, or one that comes to your home. If you have an unpredictable schedule, you may need someone with a flexible cancellation policy.

Do I have any anxiety or fears around working with a personal trainer?

A lot of folks have had a bad experience with a health professional that left lingering negative feelings around trying again. If you haven’t, you may have heard some horror stories, or have some concern about working with a trainer.

It is a relationship that requires mutual trust and respect. Naming any fears and anxieties you have will help you to name the traits and qualities you do and do not want in a coach.

What do I think working with a trainer will look like?

How do you imagine sessions looking? Do you want someone to walk you through your workouts, or do you want sessions to be for assessments and deep dive instruction? There is no wrong answer, but knowing what your expectations are will help find the right match.

What does the environment look like? Is it in your home gym, in a private studio, in a gym that you regularly go to already? Do you prefer in-person over remote? Would you like a small group more than 1:1? Again, no wrong answers here.

What kind of vibe am I looking for?

When you picture your dream coach, what is their energy level? Do you want them to share any specific values of yours?

Do you respond well to authoritative direction, or to gentle guidance? Are you looking for a cheerleader, a workout buddy, or a “coach” coach?

What do I enjoy doing?

This is a broad question, but your future coach will want to know for two reasons:

A) what physical activities do you already enjoy that could be incorporated into your fitness plan and
B) how can fitness support you doing the things you love?

Even if the answer is playing video games, a good trainer can show you how to support your body.

What is my budget?

While a 1 hour session with a coach could be anywhere from $25 - $125, there is a solution at every price point. It will simplify your search if you have a good idea ahead of time what you are comfortable paying.

Don’t let cost keep you from inquiring about a coach’s services if they seem like a good fit. While their pricing will reflect their cost of doing business and should not be discounted, they may offer services, such as small group training, that match your needs.

2. Know where to look

Now you have a better idea what you’re looking for, what next? Whether you’re looking for a local or an online coach, here are a few ways to find some potential candidates:

Hiring a personal trainer may involve asking for referrals, looking at their social media and interviewing several.


You don’t have to work with someone just because someone you know loves them, but a firsthand testimonial is a great place to start.

Social Media

If you use social media, follow a few trainers’ accounts. This is an easy way to get a feel for their coaching style and personality. Keep in mind that not every great trainer has a great social media presence.

Local gyms and studios

If you already frequent a gym, you aren’t obligated to use their trainers, but you may want to keep with the familiar environment!

Is there a gym or studio convenient to your daily routine? All else equal, choosing a trainer at a location that’s convenient to you is a great way to set yourself up for success.

Professional listings

Professional organizations have listings on their websites. This will let you know what qualifications a trainer has right away. Some suggestions are:

Balanced Healthstyles also has a professional directory you can search for a good match.

3. Ask productive questions

You have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a coach, and you’ve identified a few candidates. Now you are prepared to ask them questions and know what answers you’re looking for!

Get their thoughts on your goals

When you tell them why you want a trainer and what you enjoy, do they seem interested and supportive?

What does a typical session look like?

Does their typical session match what you’re ideal?

How do they approach accountability?

Keep in mind whether you think you’d prefer frequent reminders, check-ins and assessments, or not.

What are their costs, and what is the cancellation policy?

Do they have contracts? Are they certified and insured?

Questions to ask when finding the right coach include their credentials and the cost of hiring a personal trainer

What is included in the cost?

Programming may be a separate cost from the 1:1 session. They may offer a variety of packages or accountability groups.

Do they require any equipment or supplement purchases?

This isn’t common, but it’s information you should know before making your hiring decision.

What kind of clients do they enjoy working with?

While they might say all kinds, and that may be true, knowing that your trainer likes to work with “people like you” will help you feel comfortable in the relationship. Good coaches know that there is a coach for every type of person out there, so don’t be shy about asking what their preferred client is.

Hiring a personal trainer is a fantastic investment in your health and wellness, and professionals are out there who can’t wait to work with you! Taking the time to answer these questions will get the right trainer for you into your support system!

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Sarah Gardocki wants to be your gym guide and fitness friend. As a personal trainer and health educator who has been working to support pre- and postnatal women since 2005, she loves to create comfortable spaces and connect folks to the resources that best support their own personal goals. Find other articles written by Sarah on her coach profile. Let Sarah help you experience how confidence in the gym can impact all areas of your life!

  • Michelle Jerome says:

    Great article!